Hearts defender Demi Mitchell insists Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay’s whirlwind breakthrough at Manchester United has given him hope he can make the grade at Old Trafford.
Mitchell, who is set to make his comeback from medial knee ligament damage against Celtic tomorrow, has flourished during his first taste of competitive senior football after moving to Tynecastle on loan in January.
The 21-year-old also made a telling impact for United’s second string during the first half of the campaign after collecting the award for reserve player of the year at the club’s prize-giving ceremony on Tuesday.
Mitchell was thrilled to see McTominay be named as manager Jose Mourinho’s player of the year on the same night, with his friend having become an integral part of the squad and earned international recognition during a sustained six month spell in the first team.
Mitchell is not sure what his own future holds at United beyond this summer but admits he is inspired by McTominay’s rise to prominence.
He said: “Scott made his debut a couple of games before I did against Arsenal and then made his full debut along with me against Crystal Palace last May.
“Scott was smaller than everyone else when he was young and wasn’t in the team.
“In the space of a year he went from not playing as much as he would have liked to starting in the first team at United. It shows how much things can change in football.
“I’ve been playing with Scott since we were eight, so seeing him getting to the first team gives you hope. It’s the same with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, who is a little bit older.
“It’s another lad from Manchester going in to the side and making a positive impact.
“It was a bit out of the blue him getting the manager’s award because it’s not something that’s usually presented at the ceremony. It’s special for him.
“The manager picking Scott in his first season in big games like against Chelsea give you optimism as it just shows if you are good enough, he’ll play you.”
United legend Ryan Giggs is a previous recipient of the reserve player of the year award but Mitchell concedes that personal recognition will not enhance his chances of making the breakthrough.
He added: “It means a lot to me when you consider the names that are on the shield.
“It means a lot to have my name up there along with the likes of Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs.
“It’s nice to win any award but it doesn’t mean it’s black and white you’ll go on to do great things.
“You still need to work hard but this is icing on the cake. It’s good for them to select me and for the fans to vote for me was a special feeling.”
Hearts manager Craig Levein has made no secret of his desire to bring Mitchell back on loan next season and the player admits he would also be happy to return to Tynecastle.
He added: “I will speak to Man Utd and they’ll discuss what the best option is for me.
“There’s nothing to make me think I wouldn’t come back to Scotland.
“Everyone has embraced me here, the fans and the staff, Edinburgh’s a nice city. There’s nothing to put me off coming back.
“Coming to Scotland, you are going to get game time. I’m pals with the likes of Matthew Willock at St Johnstone and Sean Goss at Rangers and they are doing the same.
“It’s definitely a good option for players down south. When you are 20, 21, game time is the most important thing.”